The Dark Half (film)

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The Dark Half
Original 1993 theatrical poster
Directed by George A. Romero
Produced by Declan Baldwin
Christine Forrest
George A. Romero
Screenplay by George A. Romero
Based on The Dark Half by Stephen King
Music by Christopher Young
Cinematography Tony Pierce-Roberts
Edited by Pasquale Buba
Distributed by Orion Pictures
Release date
  • April 23, 1993 (1993-04-23)
Running time
121 minutes
Language English
Budget $15 million
Box office $10.6 million[1]

The Dark Half is a 1993 American horror film adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. The film was directed by George A. Romero and stars Timothy Hutton as Thad Beaumont and George Stark, Amy Madigan as Liz Beaumont, Michael Rooker as Sheriff Alan Pangborn, and Royal Dano in his final film.


An author of highbrow literary novels, Thad Beaumont (Timothy Hutton), is better known for the bestselling murder mystery suspense-thrillers he writes under the pen name "George Stark". Beaumont wishes to retire the Stark name and symbolically buries Stark in a mock grave.

However, Stark has mysteriously become a physical entity (also portrayed by Hutton) and begins terrorizing Beaumont's family and friends after he emerges from the grave. Stark then kills local photographer Homer Gamache and steals his truck. He also murders Thad's editor, agent, and his agent's ex-wife, and kills a man named Fred Clawson, who was trying to blackmail Thad for "being a con artist that should not have written books under a false name".

When the police suspect Thad of murdering Gamache, he tries to convince Sheriff Alan Pangborn of Castle Rock, Maine he had nothing to do with it. After putting an all-points bulletin on Clawson, who was accused of the death of Gamache, the New York police find him castrated and his throat slit. They find a message on the wall, written in Clawson's blood, "The sparrows are flying again." Thad starts to think that he may have a psychic connection to the killer.

While in his office, Thad begins to receive messages from Stark, and begins to worry about the next victim. He and his family start to receive threatening phone calls from Stark. Pangborn initially suspects the phone calls are a prank by Thad himself until Stark begins to describe how he is going to kill Thad's family, disturbing Pangborn.

State Police find Homer Gamache's truck with Thad's fingerprints all over it. For some reason, Stark wants to live after he appeared in a set of Thad's best selling books[clarification needed]. Thad writes, but he is not alone in suspecting something strange: Sheriff Pangborn is equally suspicious and continues investigating. Thad begins to realize that Stark is, in fact, his parasitic twin brother who died at "childbirth."

His mother never told Thad about the twin, and he was completely unaware until a local doctor tells him that Stark was a fraternal twin that was living inside Thad's brain. (A scene in the film's start shows a developing fetus inside Beaumont's brain). Stark arrives, kills the doctor, and blames Thad for the crime. Thad's colleague Reggie realizes that Stark is an entity controlled by the books that Thad wrote and that Stark will do anything he can to stop Thad. Stark kidnaps Thad's wife Liz and his children, and makes a deal with Thad: Finishing a book that depicts Stark living in the real world, or he will kill his family.

While writing the book, Thad notices Stark is healing himself with his writings. Thad and Stark get into a fight, which ends with Thad stabbing Stark in the neck with a pencil. Thinking that it is over, Stark decides to kill Thad's children instead. Sheriff Pangborn arrives and unties Liz, who says that Thad and Stark are upstairs. However, a huge flock of sparrows inexplicably comes and tears Stark apart, and take him "back to hell where he belongs". The sparrows are agents of Satan, that come to collect evil souls that were not allowed to live. Thad and Liz are spared, and they, along with Pangborn, watch as the sparrows disappear into the night.



The movie was filmed in part at Washington & Jefferson College, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[2] Notable in the film are the chapel in the Old Main, seen at the beginning of the film as Beaumont's classroom, and the office of the college chaplain, used as Beaumont's office.[2] Members of the faculty and student body served as extras in the film.[3]

The residence featured in the film is a home located on Maple Avenue in the Edgewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The film was Romero's second foray into filming with the support of a major film production company (his first being Monkey Shines), causing some problems for the notoriously low-budget director.[3]

The film was shot from October 1990 until March 1991 and was in release limbo for two years due to Orion Pictures' bleak financial situation. The film eventually saw release in April 1993, taking in just over $10 million domestically.[4]


In its opening week The Dark Half ranked in the box office charts at number 6, gathering a total of $3,250,883 from 1,563 theatres.[5] Critics gave mixed reviews on Rotten Tomatoes: the film retrieved an average score of 57% from 21 reviews and earned an average rating of 5.8, though critics praised Timothy Hutton's performance in the film as well as the screenplay.[6] Roger Ebert gave the film 2 out of 4 stars, praising Hutton's against type performance as Stark that "definitively shed his nice-guy image". However, Ebert faulted The Dark Half for failing to "develop its preternatural opening theme" and never offering a satisfactory explanation for Stark's existence.[7]


  • Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films
    • Saturn Award Best Director - George A. Romero - Nominated
    • Saturn Award Best Horror Film - Nominated
    • Saturn Award Best Makeup - John Vulich, Everett Burrell - Nominated
    • Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress - Julie Harris - Nominated
  • Fantafestival
    • Best Actor - Timothy Hutton - Won
    • Best Film - George A. Romero - Won
    • Best Screenplay - Paul Hunt, Nick McCarthy - Won [8]


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